UK security win has Senetas eyeing Layer-2 encryption opportunities

Australian network-encryption provider Senetas has its sights set on the European market after becoming the first company in the world to have its products independently certified to meet government security standards in the US, UK and Australia.

The latest addition, which adds certification to the UK government's CAPS (CESG Assisted Products Service) to existing certifications to the US FIPS 140 2 Level 3 and Australia's Common Criteria EAL4+, will help Senetas expand the export opportunities for its Layer 2 network encryption tool and could eventually pave the way for acceptance by more of the 28 NATO member states.

Encrypting data at OSI Layer 2 rather than Layer 3 helps boost speed and increase security, Senetas CEO Andrew Wilson told CSO Australia, who welcomed the CAPS certification as a win for the company's 2010 decision to break into the UK market through the £300,000 ($A459,120) acquisition of Focus Europe. Senetas now markets its products to European customers through its Senetas Europe subsidiary.

Positioning its products at Layer 2 rather than Layer 3 will help Senetas stake out a position in the expanding network-security arena, where the increasing use of managed network connections is creating new opportunities for end-to-end encryption. Senetas claims its encryption technology offers near-zero latency over Layer 2 networks, removing the performance hit that hinders high-speed IP based network encryption.

"Most networks today are IP routed networks, but we're definitely seeing a movement to adopt more Layer 2 architectures just to get those performance benefits," Wilson explained. "If you were to encrypt a 10Gbps link using IPSec you might get 5Gbps worth of actual speed out of that link – so it's not really optimal from a networking perspective. It's really only a Layer 2 network that's going to allow you to effectively manage that."

Reflecting over $1m of R&D investment to date, Senetas' Australian-developed CN1000 1GB Ethernet Data Encryptor had to undergo two years of evaluation before receiving CAPS certification, during which a "very helpful" Australian Defence Signals Directorate provided advice for Senetas and liaised with the UK government in support of the homegrown security provider, Wilson said.

Senetas already serves customers in 40 countries, but new development of shared public-services networks in the UK and elsewhere offered myriad opportunities to further expand the technology's footprint. The three stamps of approval are likely, in the long term, to support a potential play for similar recognition by security-conscious NATO, which would in turn open up new opportunities across that body's membership.

"There's already that collaboration between Australia and the UK going on," Wilson explained. "That's an added level of trust in the product. And, now that we've got three independent certifications, I think those will all help build trust for commercial and government customers. There are many requirements [in the UK market] that we've identified, and many more that we'll be working on."

Other products to recently receive CAPS approval include Research In Motion's BlackBerry 7.1 OS, Nokia S60 Smartphone, and three products from hard-drive encryption provider Eclypt.

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